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Judgmental Thinking Stops Empathy in its Tracks

Posted by Kristin Baird on December 7th, 2017 • No Comments »

How fast do you size up another person? The research says it takes seven seconds to form a first impression. But in that time, you may also be slipping into judgements about others. Judgements that could be keeping you from achieving real empathy.

In order to be truly empathetic, a person needs to be able to suspend judgement and assume a neutral position. By consciously doing this, you are able to accept others for what they are, not what you think they should be.

Being able to suspend judgement is essential in delivering the best quality care. When a patient feels judged, they are less likely to open up.

While doing coaching at a hospital, I heard a story that brings this point home. A patient presented in the emergency department with a severe infection in his arm as a result of IV drug use. He had been to the ED on several other occasions with problems related to drug use. Seeing the badly infected arm, the nurse asked, “Why didn’t you come in sooner?” To this the patient responded, “I see how you judge me every time I come in and didn’t want to face that again.” The nurse had an epiphany. She had no idea how she had been coming across and the patient postponed treatment because of it.

When we teach our Power of One class, we emphasize the need to keep judgmental thoughts in check. That starts with self-awareness. We are all a composite of our beliefs and attitudes compiled over a lifetime. Take time to reflect on what things cause you to slip into judgement mode. Once you are aware of the triggers, you can train yourself to keep them in check and empathy can thrive.

Would you like to help your associates deliver more empathetic care? Learn more about The Power of One training.

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Baird Consulting


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